SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter suspended the accounts of about half a dozen prominent journalists on Thursday, the latest shakeup at the social media service under its new owner, Elon Musk.
Suspended accounts included Ryan Mack of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Aaron Rupar, freelance journalist; Donnie O’Sullivan of CNN; Matt Binder of Mashable; Tony Webster, freelance journalist; Micah Lee The Intercept; and political journalist Keith Olbermann. It was unclear what the suspensions had in common; Each user’s Twitter page included a message saying it had suspended accounts that “violated Twitter’s rules.”
The moves come after Twitter suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires and high-profile individuals, including those of Mr Musk. Many of the accounts were run by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student and flight tracker who used Twitter to post updates on the location of Mr. Musk’s private jet using publicly available information.
Last month, Mr. Musk said he would allow an account that tracked his private jet to remain on Twitter, though he said it posed a security risk. “My commitment to free speech extends even to the point of not banning myself from my plane, even though it is a direct risk to personal safety,” he tweeted at the time.
But she changed her mind this week after she said the car carrying one of her sons had been hit by a “crazy stalker”. On Wednesday, Mr. Musk in twitter That any account that posted “someone’s real-time location information” would be suspended because it was a breach of physical security. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location information. “
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Some of the journalists whose accounts were suspended wrote about or tweeted about accounts that tracked private jets. Some also wrote articles criticizing Mr. Musk and his ownership of Twitter. Many of them had tens of thousands of followers on the platform.
Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment, and Twitter did not respond to an email seeking comment. Mr Musk said in a tweet that Twitter’s rules on “doxxing” – which involves sharing someone’s private documents, including information such as their address – “apply to ‘journalists’ and everyone”. He did not elaborate.
“Tonight’s suspension of the Twitter accounts of several prominent journalists, including The New York Times’ Ryan Mack, is suspicious and unfortunate,” said Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for The Times. “Neither the Times nor Ryan have received an explanation as to why this happened. We hope that all journalists’ accounts will be restored and that Twitter will provide a satisfactory explanation for this action.
A representative for The Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CNN spokeswoman Christine Corati Kelly said the suspensions were “concerning but not surprising” and that “Twitter’s increasing volatility and instability should be of incredible concern to everyone who uses it.” Mr. O’Sullivan said in an appearance on CNN that Twitter’s actions could intimidate journalists who cover companies owned by Mr. Musk.
“I was disappointed to find myself suspended from Twitter without explanation,” Mr. Webster, whose account was suspended, said in an emailed comment. He added that he had tweeted about a Twitter account that had been tracking Mr Musk’s private jet before it was grounded.
Mr. Binder, a reporter for Mashable, said he criticized Mr. Musk but did not violate Twitter’s listed policies.
After his suspension from Twitter, Mr. Sweeney turned to the alternative social network Mastodon. After Mastodon used Twitter to promote Mr. Sweeney’s new account on Thursday, Twitter suspended Mastodon’s account. Several journalists shared about Mastodon’s suspension, their accounts were suspended.
Mr. Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, said the takeover would expand free speech on the platform and allow more people to participate in the public conversation. In recent weeks, it has allowed some banned users to return to the platform, including former President Donald J. Trump, who was banned from his account on January 6, 2021, following the riots on Capitol Hill.
Mr. Musk said in October that he would form a board to advise him on policy before making changes to the company’s content moderation policy. The council did not meet. This week, Mr. Musk disbanded the trust and safety advisory group that guided Twitter on hot-button issues such as harassment and child exploitation.
“I hope even my worst critics stay on Twitter because that’s what free speech is all about,” Mr. Musk wrote in April, shortly after announcing his intention to buy the company.